In the latest ruling in the convoluted case over the rights to the Superman character created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Schuster, a judge denied an appeal of a magistrate’s ruling that allowed documents that the defendants claim were stolen from Attorney Marc Toberoff’s office to be used in a counter suit against the attorney who has won numerous rights battles against Hollywood studios (see “Battle Over Stolen Docs in Superman Case”).
DC and Warners filed a suit against Toberoff, which is an ancillary action to the major case, after a judge ruled in favor of the Superman heirs and assigned half the rights to the character to the Siegel estate with the other half set to revert to the Schuster estate in 2013 (see “Studio Sues Superman Mouthpiece”). In fighting the case DC and Warners played legal “hardball” repeatedly demanding to depose the 93-year-old Joanne Siegel in spite of her failing health (see “DC, Warners Shamed”), and then filing a counter suit against Toberoff based on documents provided by a disgruntled employee of Toberoff’s firm.

Deadline’s Nikki Finke calls the Warner Bros.’ lawsuit against Toberoff “a disgusting sideshow,” and decried the studio’s hiring of attorney Daniel Pertocelli, who she says is behind the decision to sue Toberoff based on information from documents stolen from Toberoff’s office and given to the Warner Bros. legal team. Finke sees a great deal of hypocrisy in Pertocelli’s use of stolen documents. “But here’s what really disgusts me. Pertocelli’s tactic belies the fact that, when he defended Disney against the Slesinger family’s Winnie the Pooh underpaid royalty claims, he was able to get the entire case thrown out of court by alleging that the Slesingers were basing some of their documentation on paperwork ‘stolen’ from a dumpster on the Disney lot.”